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January 24, 2014

Palmer trial halted, rescheduled

Insufficient number of jurors could be found from 41-member pool

FAIRMONT — The first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer has been halted and rescheduled because an insufficient number of jurors could be found from the 41-member pool.

The trial will now continue to the next term of circuit court, from February through May.

After almost five hours of questioning by Marion Circuit Judge Michael John Aloi, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Wilson and defense attorney Sean Murphy, the remaining jurors in the pool were dismissed.

Before deciding to dismiss the jurors, Aloi emphasized the importance of the task set before the jurors.

“There’s really no more important service you can do than jury duty,” Aloi said. “This is an extremely important process for everyone involved.”

Wilson stressed the seriousness of the offense Palmer has been accused of and said this made the jury selection process even more important.

“Everyone wants him to have a fair trial,” Wilson said. “It’s a serious offense.”

During the jury-selection process, jurors are asked to assess whether or not they could be biased if asked to serve on a jury for the case. The questions are detailed and address juror familiarity and relationships with places and people pertinent to the trial.

They also try to determine how potential jurors view the law.

In this case, one important question was: What counts as self-defense? This will likely be a common theme as the trial moves forward in February.

“You can’t be the aggressor, because then you don’t have that claim to self defense anymore,” Wilson argued.

Murphy presented a different view of the case.

“The big issue, at least from my perspective here, is a person’s right to defend themselves, and particularly the right to defend themselves in their own homes,” Murphy said.

The trial had been set to begin Tuesday but was already delayed due to bad weather.

It is now set to begin in the next term of court, which begins in February, with a new jury pool.

Palmer’s trial date was first set in 2012, and has been continued seven times since then.

Michael Palmer, of Baxter, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with the premeditated murder of his father-in-law, Everett “Ed” Wilson. Wilson was shot to death at the Baxter home of his daughter, Kristyn Palmer, and son-in-law, Michael Palmer, on Dec. 11, 2011.

The shooting was originally portrayed as a domestic incident in which Wilson damaged the front door while trying to enter the Palmers’ home. Wilson was shot once in the torso. Wilson was pronounced dead on the scene by a state medical examiner.

The Palmers have remained at the North Central Regional Jail since their arrests in June 2012.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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